Neutrality on Israel sparks protests against Icelandic government

The situation in Gaza

Published 9 November 2023
- By Editorial Staff
On Tuesday, protesters gathered in front of the minister's residence in the town of Tjarnargata.

The Icelandic government has so far condemned the Hamas attacks against Israel. Meanwhile, state broadcaster RUV reports that a demonstration was organized outside the Prime Minister’s residence in Reykjavík on Tuesday to protest the government’s failure to take a stand against Israel’s military operation in Gaza.

On Tuesday, protesters gathered outside the ministers’ residence on Tjarnargata in Reykjavík as the ministers were about to enter a government meeting, and booed them as they entered the building.

– We are here to tell the Icelandic government that they have not done their job on these issues because they have only condemned Hamas. They have not yet come around to condemning Israel and the atrocities that are currently being committed. The conduct at the UN is shameful, Hjálmtýr Heiðdal, chairman of the Iceland-Palestine Association in the country, told Icelandic state broadcaster RUV.

At the end of October, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution calling for a “humanitarian ceasefire” in Gaza. Of the 193 countries eligible to vote, 120 voted for a ceasefire, including France, Norway, China and Russia. 14 countries voted against, including the US and Austria. 45 countries abstained, a decision made by the other Nordic countries Sweden, Finland, Denmark and Iceland.

As always, there is talk of human rights and respect for international law. Why is this not backed up? Why not tell Israel bluntly: you have gone too far, there is no other option than to end cooperation and political relations with you, you are violating all human rights and humanitarian laws, Heiðdal continues.

Iceland’s Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir (Left-Green Movement) has previously stated that she was not present when the discussion about voting on the war came up in the government, something she expresses disappointment about. According to Jakobsdóttir’s office, she received an e-mail about this only eleven minutes before the vote at the UN General Assembly began, and states that she did not see it until afterwards. She believes that it was the country’s Foreign Minister, Bjarni Benediktsson (Independence Party), who made the decision and that he did not seek her position.

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